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12 October 2019, 19:52
The Paralympian reveals he was hospitalised for 18 months as a child after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Strictly Come Dancing’s Will Bayley has opened up about his tough battle with blood cancer as a child.
The Paralympian, 31, revealed he was hospitalised for 18 months when he was diagnosed with the life-threatening disease aged seven.
The table tennis star, who won a gold medal in the 2016 Paralympic Games, explained the scary experience had side effects that have impacted his life ever since.
Speaking to The Mirror, he said: "I had non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It was really bad at the time, I was in hospital for about a year and a half.
"We stopped the operations on my legs because we decided to just focus on the cancer. I didn't have any more after that, which is probably why my feet aren't as good as they could be."
Following a drugs trial at Great Ormond Street, Will fought the life-threatening disease but almost gave up hope after such a long stint in hospital.
He said: "It was a tough one. I knew I was really ill but I remember saying to my mum that I didn’t want any more treatment. I refused to go.
"But I said to her, ‘If I don’t go back, will I die?’ and my mum said, ‘yeah’. So I was like, ‘OK, I’ll go back’. I think those sorts of times make you a lot stronger."
However, when his mother Chrissie explained he would't make it if he didn't carry on with his treatment, he decided to continue the trial and, thankfully, beat cancer.
“It managed to get me through it, I’m so lucky that it worked,” he says now with a laugh. “To be alive is amazing, really.”
Will was born with an unrelated genetic condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), which caused the joints in his hands and feet to curve.
Speaking about how it affects his dancing ability on Strictly, he revealed to Closer: "I had special shoes made, which gave me extra balance, and they've made a big difference."
He also opened up about his dance partner Janette, and said: "I thought she might be soft on me because of my difficulties, but she tells me straight, which is the best way.
"She's adapted it really well for me.
“She’s really flexible and we work on the choreography together, because some of the moves are impossible. She brings out the best of me”.
Sportsman Will has impressed judges with his moves during the talent competition and last week scored 23 points for his Pokémon-inspired Paso Doble.
Bruno Tonioli praised his performance and called for more "artistry" in the competition.
Craig Revel Horwood chimed in and said: "It was full of strength, it had intent and it had purpose. Well done.”
While Motsi Mabuse added: "I loved this tension in your body. You really have a nice tension which gave you a nice shape and I loved the build up in the middle because I felt your bodies building up and then you released the power."